What if I missed the April 15 filing deadline?
If you're getting a refund, no need to panic. You don't even need to file an extension.
2012 tax returns that are due a refund have until April 15, 2016 (October 15, 2016 with an extension) to be filed with the IRS before the statute of limitations on the refund runs out. If you don't file by then, the U.S. Treasury simply keeps your "donation."
However, if you owe additional tax, file your return as soon as you can, even if you can't pay your tax bill right away.
The penalties for not filing are much higher than the penalties for not paying, and the longer you wait, the worse it gets. See the What are the penalties for filing late? section below.
Can I e-file after the April 15 deadline?
What are the penalties for filing late?
It all depends.
- There is no penalty if you're getting a refund, provided you file within the allotted 3-year timeframe.
- After 3 years, the "penalty" is forfeiture of your tax refund, as mentioned above.
- There is no penalty if you filed an extension and paid any additional taxes owed by April 15, as long as you file your return by the October 15 deadline.
- A late filing penalty applies if you owe taxes and didn't file your return or extension by April 15.
- This penalty also applies if you owe taxes, filed an extension, but didn't file your return by October 15.
- The late filing penalty is 5% of the additional taxes owed amount for every month (or fraction thereof) your return is late, up to a maximum of 25%.
- Tip: The late filing penalty is 10 times higher than the late payment penalty. If you can't pay your tax bill and didn't file an extension, at least file your return as soon as possible! You can always amend it later.
- A late payment penalty applies if you didn't pay additional taxes owed by April 15, whether you filed an extension or not.
- The late payment penalty is 0.5% (1/2 of 1 percent) of the additional tax owed amount for every month (or fraction thereof) the owed tax remains unpaid, up to a maximum of 25%.
Example: Let's say you didn't file your return or extension by April 15, and you still owe the IRS an additional $1,000.
Best-case scenario: You file your return on April 29, 2 weeks late, and submit your payment for $1,000. You would owe an additional $50 for filing late ($1,000 x .05) plus another $5 for late payment ($1,000 x .005) for a total penalty of $55.
(Had you filed your extension by the deadline, your total penalty would only be $5. It pays to file an extension!)
Worst-case scenario: You file your 2012 return in April of 2018, 5 years late, and submit your payment for $1,000. You would owe an additional $250 for filing late ($1,000 x the maximum .25) plus another $250 for late payment ($1,000 x the maximum .25), for a total penalty of $500.
What happens if I do not file, period?
You'll probably receive a letter from the IRS reminding you to file your tax return, particularly if W-2 or 1099 forms were reported to the IRS by your employers. For additional information, refer to the IRS article What Will Happen If You Don't File Your Past Due Return or Contact The IRS.
If you are due a refund, you'll forfeit your refund if you do not file by April 15, 2016 (or October 15 of 2016 if you filed an extension).
You must file returns reporting your self-employment income within three years of the original filing deadline in order to receive Social Security credits toward your retirement. Don't lose your Social Security benefits by not filing!
Are there any situations which allow me to file late?
If you are out of the country on the April filing deadline, you are allowed two extra months (June 17, 2013) to file your return and pay the amount due, without needing to request an extension.
You're considered out of the country if:
- You live outside of the United States or Puerto Rico and your main place of work is outside of the United States or Puerto Rico; or
- You are in military or naval service outside of the United States or Puerto Rico.
If you still need more time after the automatic June 17 deadline, you can request four additional months by filing an extension along with paying any taxes you owe.
Other Special Situations
- Residents of Boston and Suffolk County, Massachusetts have until July 15, 2013 to file their 2012 returns and pay taxes due. More info
- Taxpayers living in the Midwest or South who were unable to file their 2012 returns on time because of severe weather around the April 15 deadline may qualify for late filing without penalty. More info